It is super hard to read awkward writing. The kind stuffed full of filler words, superfluous action tags, jargon, perspective swapping and a whole lot of tell. I’ve written about those issues, but what about writing an awkward scene?
This can be fun. I love awkward moments. Why because they happen all the time in real life. Only in a story I get to create the moment and shape it accordingly. I also get to make it so much worse than real life if I want to. I can add layer after layer of discomfort employing my super evil laugh as my protagonist squirms.
“At least it’s just drinks.” Sasha got out of the taxi. She drove home earlier, showered, changed and put on makeup. Valery kept calling it a date. Sasha kept denying it even though it was clearly a date. She brushed her hands over her dark-blue jeans and soft sweater that matched her brown eyes. She risked the pending rain and wore her favorite three inch calf high suede boots.
“Sasha.” Scott approached quickly. “You look fantastic.”
She bit back her usual snarky remark, smiled and responded. “Thanks. You too.” His dark jeans and black t-shirt made her heart beat faster as he put his hand on her back to lead her inside.
The bar was not what she expected. No dance floor, modern with glass tables. Meant for mingling and conversation the music was background and not overpowering. She jumped up into the chair at the high table and picked up the menu as Scott moved his chair closer and prattled on about a new car he was thinking about purchasing.
With drinks in hand she sipped quickly until the familiar warmth cascaded through her. Casting glances in the direction of the exit. Twice she pulled her hand out from under his as he rambled.
“So what do you think?”
Sasha whipped her head back to Scott wide eyed. She wasn’t listening and had no idea what he was asking about.
“Um.” She stalled and took a long gulp of her third drink as his hand slid up her thigh.
“You keep looking at the door. My place is closer, we can go now or wait a bit.”
She choked on her drink.
“Later then.” He laughed and ordered another round as she recovered and removed his wayward hand.
“You’re confidence is astounding Scott.”
He leaned closer brushing the back of his fingers over her jaw. “For good reason.”
She sucked her breath in as she looked over his shoulder, he misread and moved in for a kiss. Dodging his lips she leaned away.
“What the hell Sasha?” Scott cleared his throat and regained his composure. “Sorry, you throw off mixed signals.”
She was about to reply when Cal strolled by and stopped. Head cocked to the side he smiled. “Good evening Sasha, how nice,” Cal’s eyes slipped to Scott then back, “to run into you here.”
The chair did not swallow her up and she silently cursed it. “Um.”
“Who are you?” Scott’s arm slid around her waist. “Who is he Sasha?”
“Ah, he’s Detective Thorn. This is Scott from work.” She peeled his arm from her waist ungracefully. Cal extended Scott his hand. “He was the one that saved me from that guy that attacked me last week.”
“Oh right.” Scott shook Cal’s hand. “You sort of mentioned that.”
Her eyes narrowed. She had mentioned it in great detail after Amber caught wind of her whoring it up bringing home a bad man for a one night stand. She only told them to set the story straight. Neither he nor Amber asked after her welfare then.
“What brings you here?” Scott asked edging his chair closer to Sasha’s.
“Meeting a friend and his new husband for drinks.”
Scott relaxed noticeably and muttered. “Oh good.”
“It was nice to meet you Scott.” Cal looked at Sasha once again as she pushed Scott’s hand away. “I won’t keep you from your,” he flicked his eyes at Scott, “date.”
“It’s not a date.” Sasha’s quick response made the corner of Cal’s mouth curl as he walked away.
“What the hell do you mean it’s not a date?” Scott spoke through clenched teeth and she slipped off the chair and dropped two twenty dollar bills on the table.
He started after her while muttering, “Stupid shrew.”
Once outside he caught up and grabbed her arm nearly causing her to drop her phone. “What some cop shows up and you bail on me? You owe me more than paying for drinks.”
“Owe you?” She shoved his hand from her arm goosebumps rose on it from his eerie comment. “I owe you nothing Scott.”
He put his hands on her shoulders. “If it’s the cop we can go somewhere else.” His hands slid down her arms. “Look let’s go back to my place, have a few drinks and watch a movie or something.” He lowered his face to hers and kissed her. Her mind went wild with all the little sly looks of malice he’d been tossing her way. The looks of frustration and anger that flashed in his eyes.
She pushed him away. “This is wrong. I’m going home.” She headed toward a waiting taxi.
“I’ve put too much effort into you to just give up.” He chased after her.
She stopped with one foot in the cab. “Effort? What’s my favourite color? Don’t know? Yours is Green, peacock green to be precise. What’s my favorite meal? Drink? Do I have pets? Favorite movie?”
Scott took a step back his mouth opening and closing slightly.
“You haven’t really heard a word I’ve said in three years. You love spaghetti, long island ice tea, your dog McClane died eight and a half months ago and you are a huge Die Hard fan.” She sat in the cab slamming the door.
Forcing someone to be awkward can give them a momentary break, enough to see reality. I used it to give Sasha a moment to pause and regroup. Awkward can be as simple as waving at a someone you thought was waving at you, but wasn’t or walking into a meeting late. It can be complicated as the moment a character realizes a mistake or has a revelation about what they really want. It can be a devastatingly awkward, like standing for an award or recognition meant for someone else. Or running into your stodgy boss at the sex store while picking up phallic lollipops for a bachelorette party.
My advice about awkward.
If your character needs a laugh break make it funny awkward and have them drop a Freudian during a presentation. If they are stuck, make it eye opening awkward. If they need to see something in front of their nose, you can make it devastating or revealing. As always have fun with it.
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